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Human Rights

Calcutta High Court Orders FIR Against Police Personnel for Alleged Torture of Muslim Couple in West Bengal

Calcutta High Court has directed the filing of an FIR against seven police officers, including the Islampur police station IC, for allegedly torturing a Muslim couple on October 27. The couple, accused of theft, claim they were brutally beaten in custody, with Mohammad Shahjamal stating his kidneys were affected. The incident took place in West Bengal’s Islampur city, sparking legal action against the accused police personnel.

Sabnaj Khatun, the wife of Muhammad Shahjamal, lodged a complaint against Islampur Police Station against two civic volunteers, two sub-inspectors, two assistant sub-inspectors, and an officer of the Islampur Sub-Divisional Correctional Center, working at the High Court’s order on Sunday.

The incident started on the night of October 27, 2023; there was a theft at the house of Gurudas Saha, a Trinamool councillor and lawyer of Puratanpally in Ward No. 4 of Islampur Municipality. It is alleged that gold jewellery worth around Rs 6 lakh and other items were stolen. Mohammad Shahjamal, a resident of the same area, and his wife, Khatun, were picked up by the police on suspicion of theft. Khatun was released a couple of days later.

Shahjamal was produced before the Islampur sub-divisional court, which sent him to a 10-day police remand. He was then taken into police custody and beaten again. Shahjamal was seriously injured by the police.

On November 2, the police were forced to admit him to Islampur sub-divisional hospital. Later, Shahjamal was shifted to North Bengal Medical College Hospital in critical condition. However, the court granted bail to Shahjamal on December 21.

Shahjamal’s family alleged that his kidneys were damaged by “torture inflicted by the police”. His wife filed a case in the Calcutta High Court seeking justice.

On January 5, the High Court ordered the filing of a complaint against the police at Islampur Police Station. Shabnaz Khatun filed a complaint against seven policemen at Islampur Police Station on Sunday.

Shahjamal’s wife Sabnaj Khatun said, “We were not involved in the theft in any way. But the police arrested me and my husband on false charges. After this, the police officers on duty tortured my husband inhumanely without any fault. My husband’s two kidneys were damaged by the police. In this situation, I approached the Calcutta High Court in the hope of justice. Following the court’s order, I lodged a complaint against seven people, including the police officer, at Islampur police station.”

“I know the names of the seven police officers. They are inspector-in-charge (IC) Sandeep Chakraborty, sub-inspector (SI) Sourav Barman and Ajay Halder and assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Debashish Mukherjee of Islampur Police Station. Two civic volunteers, Sukumar Barman and Mohammad Rabiul Hussain, and an official of Islampur sub-divisional prison have also been named,” she added.

Lawyer Nazar Chowdhury said, “On December 7, the Calcutta High Court sought a detailed report from Islampur Superintendent of Police Jaspreet Singh. The report sent by the Superintendent of Police mentioned appropriate action against the officers who failed to perform their duties. Earlier, the SP had suspended the investigating officer of the case, Sourav Barman. On the same day, another officer-in-charge of Islampur Police Station, Ajay Halder, was transferred to another police station. I hope the police don’t make the same mistake a second time.

“My client went to Islampur police station today and filed an FIR. Even if a complaint is filed against them, the police will investigate and take action. And if the police delay in taking appropriate action legally after lodging an FIR, we will bring it to the notice of the court. Above all, the court is looking into the matter,” said lawyer Nazar Chaudhary.

Superintendent of Police Jaspreet Singh said the entire incident would be investigated.

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